Vitamin D: Treatment for metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is that increasingly common collection of low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and high pressure that now afflicts nearly 1 in 4 adults, rapidly gaining ground to 1 in 3. Beyond these surface factors, metabolic syndrome also creates small LDL particles, VLDL, intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL), increased imperceptible inflammation measured as higher c-reactive protein, and greater blood clotting tendencies. Metabolic syndrome is usually, though not always, associated with a big tummy ("beer belly," though I call it "wheat belly").

In short, metabolic syndrome creates a metabolic mess that leads to dramatic increases in heart disease, vascular disease and stroke, and cancer. The medical community has been paying increasingly greater attention to this condition because of its booming prevalence and because of the big bucks invested in "education" by the manufacturers of the diabetes and pre-diabetes drugs, particularly makers of Actos and Avandia.

But here's a curious observation:

Replacement of vitamin D to healthy levels (we aim for 50-60 ng/ml, or 125-150 nmol/l) yields:

--Higher HDL
--Lower triglycerides
--Lower blood sugar
--Reduced c-reactive protein
--Reduced blood pressure
--Reduced small LDL
--Enhanced sensitivity to insulin

(Whether blood clotting and effects on IDL should be added to this list is uncertain.)

It's obvious: Vitamin D is proving to be a very important and powerful corrective influence on many of the facets of the metabolic syndrome. In fact, I would go as far as saying that, side by side, vitamin D yields nearly the same effect as prescription drugs Actos and Avandia--without the extravagant cost (nearly $200 per month), leg swelling, congestive heart failure and heightened heart attack risk (with Avandia), and average 8 lb weight gain. Of course, vitamin D also provides benefits beyond metabolic syndrome like facilitation of coronary plaque regression, increased bone density, reduced arthritis, and reduced risk of several cancers.

You'd think that agencies like the American Diabetes Association (ADA) would be all over vitamin D like white on rice. Yet they remain curiously quiet about the entire issue. (That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the behavior and politics of this organization, the same outfit that has widely propagated the ADA diet, a program that accelerates diabetes and its complications. In my view, the ADA is an embarassment.)

For a really great story and video on vitamin D that includes a terrific interview with vitamin D guru and Track Your Plaque friend, California psychiatrist Dr. John Cannell, go to What's the Real Story on Vitamin D?. While the video will yield little new to readers of The Heart Scan Blog or Track Your Plaque members, it just feels really good to see a well-made, high-class video production echoing many of the things we've been talking about these past two years.

Comments (44) -

  • Anonymous

    12/21/2007 5:52:00 PM |

    > Whether blood clotting and effects on IDL
    >should be added to this list is uncertain.

    Meaningless anecdote: I've noticed an increased tendency to bruise easily since I've been taking higher doses of vitamin D, and had been wondering whether it was the cause. I definitely have metabolic syndrome.

  • mo79uk

    12/21/2007 7:36:00 PM |

    I wish Dr. Cannell would come talk the British media. We need a tank load of D talk to infiltrate here.

  • Mike

    12/22/2007 3:49:00 PM |

    An irrational fear of skin cancer prevents most people from getting their vitamin D from sunshine. The doses that the medical establishment recommends are so small as to be almost worthless.

  • MarilynMann

    12/22/2007 10:36:00 PM |

    It would be helpful if you could tell us where the research on vitamin D you are referring to is published.  Some of us like to go to the original source.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/23/2007 12:38:00 AM |

    See our special reports on the Track Your Plaque website with detailed references. Or, go to Dr. John Cannell's website.

  • Sue

    12/23/2007 2:38:00 AM |

    Is cod liver oil the best way to get vitamin D or just vitamin D3 capsules?
    Is there are connection with hypothyroidism and low vitamin D levels?

  • Dr. Davis

    12/23/2007 1:57:00 PM |

    Either source for vitamin D works.

    I do believe that correction of vitamin D has, in occasional instances, modestly increased thyroid function.

  • MarilynMann

    12/23/2007 3:45:00 PM |

    Cod liver oil has a lot of vitamin A, which in excess can lead to low bone density.  It is better just to take the vitamin D by itself.

  • g

    12/23/2007 9:20:00 PM |

    I agree -- over 20yrs ago it was suggested that increased thyroid doses are required in the winter time for hypothyroid pts on replacement (see below). IT sure seems to suggest that Vitamin D deficiency exacerbates hypothyroidism (and I'd go as far to say it even CAUSES it)?  I've observed this as well. (it's corrected with D3)

    In the second study, a corollary phenomenon occurred -- thyroid replacement in hypothyroid pts caused 25(OH)D to INCREASE (in the autumn when you'd normally expect it to decrease).  

    Isn't it fascinating how thyroid hormone and D3 hormone are interrelated.
    ---When D3 hormone (sunlight) is lacking, thyroid function suffers
    ---When thyroid hormone is lacking, a high D3 dose fails to increase 25(OH)D much....
    ---When thyroid hormone is NOT lacking, high dose D3 causes a large increase in 25(OH)D (in normal euthryoid controls)

    it all sounds very familiar to me...  Smile

    THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR WORK AND INSIGHTS!! Keep up the strong work, g

    Metabolism. 1984 Mar;33(3):215-8. Links
    Is it necessary to adjust the replacement dose of thyroid hormone to the season in patients with hypothyroidism?Hamada N, Ohno M, Morii H, Jaeduk N, Yamakawa J, Inaba M, Ikeda S, Wada M.
    Hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid activity varies with the temperature of the environment; we therefore measured variables involved with thyroid function in summer and winter in normal controls and in patients with primary hypothyroidism. All seven patients had impalpable thyroid glands and had received a set replacement dose of thyroxine for over a year. In the patients, serum T3 and FT4 levels were slightly but significantly lower in winter, and TSH levels and delta TSH at 30 minutes in the TRH tests were significantly higher. In the controls, there were no significant differences between summer and winter in these values. These findings suggest that the dose required for replacement of thyroid hormone in patients with hypothyroidism may be higher in winter than in summer.

    PMID: 6420646 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1986 Nov;113(3):329-34.Links
    Effect of vitamin D3 loading and thyroid hormone replacement therapy on the decreased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level in patients with hypothyroidism.Bársony J, Lakatos P, Földes J, Fehér T.
    Twelve hypothyroid subjects, 13 healthy and 12 healthy women with a slight deficiency of vitamin D were studied to distinguish seasonal changes from the thyroxine-dependent ones. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of hypothyroid patients were lower than those of healthy individuals when the sera were obtained in the autumn. In hypothyroid patients a single oral dose of 100,000 IU vitamin D3 resulted in a smaller increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration than in controls having subclinical exogenous vitamin D deficiency. Substitution therapy with thyroid hormone, started in our study always in autumn, increased the 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration in hypothyroid patients, which was opposite to the autumn-to-spring variation of this hormone observed in healthy controls. The increase of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulphate values following substitution therapy in the hypothyroid patients may indicate that thyroid hormone(s) is (are) involved in the regulation of steroid hormone synthesis.

    PMID: 3024434 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • g

    12/23/2007 9:32:00 PM |

    This is very hopeful...Vitamin D3 stalls thyroid cancer, one case report:

    Endocr J. 2005 Oct;52(5):613-6. Links
    Vitamin D3 treatment for locally advanced thyroid cancer: a case report.Morishita M, Ohtsuru A, Kumagai A, Namba H, Sato N, Hayashi T, Yamashita S.
    Department of Molecular Medicine, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Japan.

    There are many intricacies in the surgical treatment of locally advanced thyroid cancer, including the medical management of the remaining functional organ and any cosmetic impairments, which are sometimes very difficult to manage and eventually carry a relatively high morbidity and mortality. Here, we report on a case of a 65-year-old female with an extremely locally-advanced thyroid cancer involving both lobes of the thyroid, blood vessels, trachea and esophagus. Despite the severity of her condition, oral administration of vitamin D3 (alphacalcido) has stalled both the tumor growth and further increases of serum thyroglobulin (Tg) level, and has led to a good preservation of quality of life for the last two years. Several reports have previously demonstrated the efficacy of vitamin D3 to inhibit the proliferation of thyroid cancer cell lines in vitro, but clinical evidence has been limited so far. Therefore, this case report provides important evidence for the effectiveness of vitamin D3 therapy against advanced thyroid cancers.

    PMID: 16284441 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • g

    12/23/2007 9:42:00 PM |

    Another good story... 3mon old child with depressed thyroid function, CHF and profound Vitamin D deficiency in Oslo, Norway -- corrected with a Vit D analogue:

    Acta Paediatr. 1995 Jan;84(1):106-8
    Congestive heart failure caused by vitamin D deficiency?Brunvand L, Hågå P, Tangsrud SE, Haug E.
    Department of Paediatrics, Ullevål Hospital, Oslo, Norway.

    We describe a child, 3.5 months old, with severe vitamin D deficiency, profound hypocalcaemia, hyperphosphataemia, dilated left ventricle, severely reduced myocardial contractility and congestive heart failure. She also had depressed thyroid function with subnormal thyroxine and non-detectable serum thyrotropin (TSH) levels. The child promptly responded to calcium infusions, conventional anticongestive therapy and calcitriol. She is now 3 years old and received no medication. Myocardial function is normal but she has motor delay. We believe that her transitory congestive heart failure was caused by severe vitamin D deficiency with profound hypocalcaemia.

    PMID: 7734890 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • Dr. Davis

    12/23/2007 11:31:00 PM |

    Thanks, Marilyn. You're absolutely right.

    In all honesty, I virtually never use cod liver oil, but for some reason some people gravitate towards it, perhaps since they took it as children.

  • Jerome

    12/24/2007 1:55:00 PM |

    I went to a local vitamin supplier yesterday to get some Vitamin D after reading your blog, which is most interesting I might add.  At this store they had Vitamin D2 and D3 but no D1.  Is there such a thing (D1) and which is the one I should be taking to benefit as suggested in the blog?

  • Dr. Davis

    12/24/2007 4:59:00 PM |

    Hi, Jerome--

    Vitamin D3 is the only form I recommend. In my view, vitamin D2 is a worthless scam, whether it's in milk, a multivitamin, or a prescription product. I've never heard of vit D1.

  • jpatti

    12/24/2007 4:59:00 PM |

    I liked the *idea* of cod liver oil, as it would replace both fish oil and vitamin D tablets - a total of 8 pills in my 26-pill regimen.

    I bought what was supposed to be one of the best tasting ones and... it made me retch.  It also sort of tingles in your mouth.  And because it's oily, you can't rinse it out of your mouth.  It's just icky.

    I gave some to the cats, figuring it would be a healthy snack for them... and all four of them refused it.

    If someone can get it down, I think it's great stuff.  For me, I'll stick to the extra 8 pills...

  • Sue

    12/25/2007 2:20:00 AM |

    Thanks for all the helpful comments.  I've got cod liver oil in the fridge so I think I will use it up and then get D3 capsules.
    I take the cod liver oil with lemon juice.  I put the cod-liver oil in a little shot glass and squeeze some fresh lemon into the shot glass aswell and drink it in one swoop.  I then wash it down with some water with fresh lemon squeezed into it.  Gets rid of some of the icky fishy taste. The lemon also helps with digesting the fat.

  • cheron

    12/27/2007 7:19:00 AM |

    I wouldn't necessarily be afraid of the A, as we can be deficient in the A as well.  Perhaps alternating between A-containing and A-less forms of D supplements would work.  That way you get a vacation from the A periodically.

    As for surviving the fish taste...try following it up with a bite of something else that's strong tasting and contains fat, like cured olives or a tuna salad sandwich.

  • Anonymous

    1/1/2008 11:37:00 AM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Have you seen literature making a connection to the plaque linked to Alzheimer's disease with the plaque responsible for heart disease?  I was asked this question by a distant cousin yesterday that wondered if the supplements recommended for TYP ,like vitamin D and K2, could help prevent those at risk for Alzheimer's (his grandmother, and mother both came down with Alzheimer's)

  • Dr. Davis

    1/1/2008 2:37:00 PM |

    No, sorry, they are two completely unrelated phenomena, despite the use of the word "plaque" to describe both.

  • MarilynMann

    1/1/2008 11:31:00 PM |

    Fish oil benefits
    Medical Research News
    Published: Sunday, 30-Dec-2007  

    It's good news that we are living longer, but bad news that the longer we live, the better our odds of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease.
    Many Alzheimer's researchers have long touted fish oil, by pill or diet, as an accessible and inexpensive "weapon" that may delay or prevent this debilitating disease. Now, UCLA scientists have confirmed that fish oil is indeed a deterrent against Alzheimer's, and they have identified the reasons why.

    Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, now online, Greg Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate director of UCLA's Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and his colleagues report that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil increases the production of LR11, a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer's patients and which is known to destroy the protein that forms the "plaques" associated with the disease.

    The plaques are deposits of a protein called beta amyloid that is thought to be toxic to neurons in the brain, leading to Alzheimer's. Since having high levels of LR11 prevents the toxic plaques from being made, low levels in patients are believed to be a factor in causing the disease.

    Alzheimer's is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss, dementia, personality change and ultimately death. The national Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.1 million Americans are currently afflicted with the disease and predicts that the number may increase to between 11 million and 16 million people by the year 2050.

    The researchers examined the effects of fish oil, or its component DHA, in multiple biological systems and administered the oil or fatty acid by diet and by adding it directly to neurons grown in the laboratory.

    "We found that even low doses of DHA increased the levels of LR11 in rat neurons, while dietary DHA increased LR11 in brains of rats or older mice that had been genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's disease," said Cole, who is also associate director of the Geriatric Research Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

    To show that the benefits of DHA were not limited to nonhuman animal cells, the researchers also confirmed a direct impact of DHA on human neuronal cells in culture as well. Thus, high levels of DHA leading to abundant LR11 seem to protect against Alzheimer's, Cole said, while low LR11 levels lead to formation of the amyloid plaques.

    Fish oil and its key ingredient, omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon), have been a mainstay of alternative health practitioners for years and have been endorsed by the American Heart Association to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Fatty acids like DHA are considered "essential" fatty acids because the body cannot make them from other sources and must obtain them through diet. Years of research have shown that DHA is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain, Cole said, and that it is critical to fetal and infant brain development. Studies have also linked low levels of DHA in the brain to cognitive impairment and have shown that lower levels may increase oxidative stress in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

    Based on the positive results, the National Institutes of Health is currently conducting a large-scale clinical trial with DHA in patients with established Alzheimer's disease. For those patients, Cole said, it may be too late in the disease's progression for DHA to have much effect. But he is hopeful that the NIH will conduct a large-scale prevention clinical trial using fish oil at the earliest stages of the disease - particularly because it is unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will do so, since fish oil in pill form is readily available and inexpensive.

    Still to be determined, he said, "is what the optimal dose should be. It could be that a smaller amount might be helpful, especially in a place like the south of France, where people are already on a Mediterranean diet."

    Here in the United States, though, where fish consumption is not very high, the dose may need to be higher.

    "There's a deficiency of DHA to begin with," Cole said, "and this may contribute to the low LR11 seen in many Alzheimer's patients."

    This is for the person asking about Alzheimer's.


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  • Anonymous

    1/2/2008 6:43:00 PM |

    Hi Marilyn,

    Thanks for sharing the great information on fish oil/DHA!  I'm going to pass this on to my relative.

  • J. Michael

    1/3/2008 2:07:00 PM |

    It is rather difficult to find good D3-sources in Europe. Swanson's seems to be available; gelatine capsules although with a white powder inside. Are they any good?

  • Dr. Davis

    1/3/2008 9:08:00 PM |

    I do not advocate use of powder preparations of vit D. The absorption is simply too erratic. oil-based gelcaps are best.

  • moblogs

    1/4/2008 1:25:00 PM |

    I wonder what you think of this report? I'm guessing that this is probably Hollick's idea of infiltration - get them to at least accept profitable D2 more before winning them over with D2.

    Also, last year I was prescribed 400IU of D2 which raised my 10nmol/L to 21nmol/L; in realising this is inadequate what would you recommend is a good plan for me?

  • Dr. Davis

    1/4/2008 1:35:00 PM |

    I don't know what to make of Holick's study. He is a source of reliable observations. However, his experience is dramatically different from my experience and that of many others. I have seen D2 have no effect whatsoever repeatedly. I had one woman who had been taking 50,000 units D2 per day have a blood level of D3 of 4 ng/ml.

    Most of my patients take somwhere in the 4000-6000 units per day of vit D3 to generate a blood level of 50-60 ng/ml.

  • Anonymous

    1/4/2008 4:35:00 PM |

    I saw the study about the vitamin D2 being just as good as D3 also.  Here is the link I read: thought the article was interesting, until I read the part of the company that made the softgels.  I'd question  what where the Q/C of the content? Did an independent lab test the softgels?

  • Dr. Davis

    1/5/2008 1:52:00 AM |

    Excellent point.

    To me, there is absolutely no reason to take vit D2, given the uncertainty. It is not cheaper, more effective, nor more available. It may, however, be more profitable for a drug company. D3 is the human form; D2 is the plant form.

    Is there any reason at all to take D2? I don't think there is.

  • g

    1/7/2008 12:29:00 AM |

    Thanks for the information on Alzheimer's (AD) known now as 'Type 3 Diabetes.' It's conjectured that profound Insulin Resistance in the brain occurs prior to amyloid development in AD patients.  The brain can only use two types of fuel -- ketones (ie like during starvation) and glucose.  There appears to be a problem with excessive glucose.  Some neurobiologist experts believe a mildly ketotic diet may be beneficial for preventing this type of insulin resistance.

    Many benefits in recent studies have shown that fish oil significantly decreases IR associated with Type 2 Diabetes, NAFLD (a precursor to diabetes and believed to be a new indicator for Metabolic Syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver dz) and even cancers -- including prostate (shown by Vieth) and glioblastoma -- a rare malignant brain cancer -- thought to be incurable but now being 'cured' with fish oil (and tamoxifen, etc cocktail).

    Thanks ! !  g

  • g

    1/7/2008 4:36:00 PM |

    sorry -- Vieth is in vitro data -- don't know if in vivo data exists yet

  • Anonymous

    1/8/2008 12:23:00 PM |

    Seems word is leaking into the mainstream press about vitamin D.  Last night NBC Nightly News ran an article about the connection between low vitamin D levels and increased risk for heart disease.

  • Paul Kelly - 95.1 WAYV

    1/8/2008 7:28:00 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I know that you recommend oil-based / gel caps for Vitamin D as opposed to tablets. Does the same hold true for daily multi-vitamins? Is a capsule and a gelcap the same thing?

  • Renee

    1/8/2008 8:57:00 PM |

    Wow another sickness that not enough Vitamin D is contributed to.  I just read an article at Here Comes The Sun talking about ways you can intake more Vitamin D.  Check it out.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/9/2008 3:33:00 AM |

    Vit D gelcaps contain oil. Gelcaps are capsules. However, not all capsules are gelcaps; some contain powder.

    Oil-based vitamins like A, D, and E are best taken as an oil. The D, for instance, in your multivitamin probably doesn't work at all, or absorption is erratic.

    Gelcaps are no more expensive, so why bother with tablet or powder forms?

  • moblogs

    1/21/2008 11:54:00 AM |

    Just wondered what your opinion on this anti-D report is?

    For what it's worth, I think this guy is going too far. His Marshall Protocol might be entertainable for those with certain autoimmune diseases, but saying D is bad for everyone based on his *personal* model seems nuts. Furthermore, his basic assumption is that everyone with low D 'is' ill, rather than has the potential to. And yet we know treating D in associated illness restores health.

    Would this guy withhold blood because a bullet causes bleeding? No wonder he's not an MD.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/21/2008 1:05:00 PM |

    Is this guy from the same planet?

    I've witnessed such extraordinary effects of vitamin D replacement that, for me, there is no turning back. Thus far, the effects of vitamin D replacement have paralleled the effects of sun exposure (except for the tan, of course).

    For every new idea, there will always be those who protest. Some have validity, some are plain kooks.

  • Anonymous

    1/24/2008 3:40:00 AM |

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    Thank you for your support of Vitamin D. I recently was tested and found to have a level of 37. I do have a question or two, though. I was on the mega-dose (50000IU twice a week for four weeks).

    I am now on 2000IU per day (just started this past Sunday). I have all of the Metabolic Syndrome symptoms except the high glucose (my last fasting was 81).

    How long do you think I should continue on this does before I have my level checked again? And how long before I would start to see results?

    My doctor seems very concerned about my CRP (3.1), and I'm really hoping that this vit d. regime helps.
    Thank you.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/24/2008 12:50:00 PM |

    Unfortunately, the "mega-dose" you refer to probably yielding nothing--it was probably vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). In my experience, this synthetic form fails to be converted to the active form in humans, D3.

    We wait at least 4 weeks before checking a blood level, ideally 8 weeks.

  • Linda

    7/20/2009 7:30:21 PM |

    Just found out that I have
    vitamin D deficiency.  I have
    neuropathy, muscle weakness
    and arthritis.
    I hope taking the 50,000 units
    three times a week helps.
    We must certainly need our D,
    I'm proof.

  • Anonymous

    1/16/2010 2:53:37 AM |

    I have been detected with high TSH levels - 6 (the thyroid hormones are within range)and low Vit D - 25.
    Additionally, my cholesterol is 223 (good one is 81).
    I also seem to be getting ovarian cysts.
    Is all this related?

  • Anonymous

    2/15/2010 1:20:25 PM |

    quite interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter.

  • shaheel

    9/27/2010 1:00:12 PM |

    Heart  disease is one of the most  dangerous disease which takes thousands of life every years all over the world. If we know its symptoms and Treatment for heart disease. We can prevent is to large extent.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 6:51:49 PM |

    In short, metabolic syndrome creates a metabolic mess that leads to dramatic increases in heart disease, vascular disease and stroke, and cancer. The medical community has been paying increasingly greater attention to this condition because of its booming prevalence and because of the big bucks invested in "education" by the manufacturers of the diabetes and pre-diabetes drugs, particularly makers of Actos and Avandia.

  • liposculpture guide

    1/31/2011 4:15:52 AM |

    Vitamin D is proving to be a very important and powerful influence on many of the facets of the metabolic syndrome. Because the metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases.

  • robrob

    2/5/2011 6:42:42 PM |

    I was wondering can you have a genetic compenont against making enough vit d by the sun? I bask in the sun for hours (since I love it so much and I am drawn to it like postive charge does to negative charge) yet I am d deficient, I suffer terrible metabolic syndrome, the whole nine yards just short of type 2. my doctor calls me prediabetic.

    I have even improved my diet big time over the last 3 years. lower gi, lower sat fat, more veggies etc. omega 3 fish oil

    I never use sunscreen and I never burn. just a nice light brown tan.I keep this tan by the way almost the whole winter. I started to take a cal vita d mag supplement chewables and I drink whole milk with it to make sure I absorb them being fat soluable and all. I can't expose my belly for more than a few minutes that will burn. ouch!

    being obese I am sure whatever cal vita d I take is going to end up in storage hoarding it an all. what can I do? I now drink more whole milk, eat organic bacon per suggestion from article the obesity epidemic is metabolic syndrome a nutritional deficiency. by stephanic seneff. real nice lady by the way.

    anyway slowly after implementing her suggestions my fasting hypoglycemic especially at night has improved, i don't run to the bathroom like i used to, I am more relaxed too. I have more energy, all this is a slow process not overnight. over many months.

    I don't have to eat at 3 in the morning anymore because of getting super hungry, nervous sweaty etc.

    but I still suffer some of the symptoms just not as severe. is there anything else I can do to speed up the improvments in mets?

    reduced cal diets do not work I get to hungry can't sleep and lose all energy. even a slight reduction which I have done makes me to hungry to sleep at night. or forces me up to eat after a couple of hours of sleep.

    forcing my body to get by on less caloires is not an option. (losing weight is always touted by my doctor to cure mets but mets was caused by my dieting history) I have lost hundreds of pounds over my 35 dieting history.

    I would like to hear any suggestions you may have. my doctor keeps pushing weight loss but that is what got me like this in the first place.

Vitamin D: Deficiency vs optimum level

Vitamin D: Deficiency vs optimum level

Dr. James Dowd of the Vitamin D Cure posted his insightful comments regarding the Institute of Medicine's inane evaluation of vitamin D.

Dr. Dowd hits a bullseye with this remark:

The IOM is focusing on deficiency when it should be focusing on optimal health values for vitamin D. The scientific community continues to argue about the lower limit of normal when we now have definitive pathologic data showing that an optimal vitamin D level is at or above 30 ng/mL. Moreover, if no credible toxicity has been reported for vitamin D levels below 200 ng/mL, why are we obsessing over whether our vitamin D level should be 20 ng/mL or 30 ng/mL?

Yes, indeed. Have no doubts: Vitamin D deficiency is among the greatest public health problems of our age; correction of vitamin D (using the human form of vitamin D, i.e., D3 or cholecalciferol, not the invertebrate or plant form, D2 or ergocalciferol) is among the most powerful health solutions.

I have seen everything from relief from winter "blues," to reversal of arthritis, to stopping the progression of aortic valve disease, to partial reversal of dementia by achieving 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml or greater. (I aim for 60-70 ng/ml.)

The IOM's definition of vitamin D adequacy rests on what level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D reverses hyperparathyroidism (high PTH levels) and rickets. Surely there is more to health than that.

Dr. Dowd and vocal vitamin D advocate, Dr. John Cannell, continue to champion the vitamin D cause that, like many health issues, conradicts the "wisdom" of official organizations like the IOM.

Comments (20) -

  • Anton

    12/19/2010 2:20:07 AM |

    Thanks for your great blog, and for your interest in Vitamin D.

    Along with doctors Dowd and Cannell, add Dr. Holick as another pioneer in Vitamin D. research.

  • Anonymous

    12/19/2010 4:58:25 AM |

    I bet natural vitamin d is far superior to oral supplementation.  I think vit D absorbtion is optimized by low carb, but you also need some sunlight added into the picture.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/19/2010 1:59:13 PM |

    Hi, Anon--

    Where I live, it's been around 10 degrees Fahrenheit for about two weeks straight. Probably too cold to lay out in a bathing suit.

    For many of us, supplementation is the only choice.

    Also, don't forget that the majority of people after age 40 have lost much of their ability to activate vit D in the skin.

  • kellgy

    12/19/2010 5:02:25 PM |

    I just added his book to my wish list and it will be my next read. I am beginning to wonder why don't we seek to reach serum vitamin D somewhere between 100-150 range. Has there been any research indicating any response to these levels? Even with all the recent research focusing on vitamin D, it would be nice to understand overall health responses at varying degrees of serum content from deficiency to toxicity. We need a wider perspective to draw from.

    BTW, an update: 110 pounds and counting . . . My BMI is about to fall into the normal range and my health has never been better!

    This is an unusual thought. Sitting in front of a very warm and soothing fire last night, I was wondering how my skin reacts to the radiation, aside from the warmth and relaxation benefits.

  • IggyDalrymple

    12/20/2010 3:07:51 AM |

    My level dropped 20 points when I reduced my intake from 10,000 iu/day to 5,000 /day.  I went back to 10,000 and now I'm at 63 ng/ml.  I'll stick with 10,000 iu unless I exceed 100 ng/ml.

  • Susanne

    12/20/2010 7:06:08 AM |

    I wonder if there is not a missing piece to the puzzle of vitamin D deficiency in relation to adequate iodine levels.  I have appended text from the website Iodine4health.  In it Dr. Vickery noticed a connection between the two:

    ”I have also noted an apparent connection between bringing sufficient iodine to a bromine plugged thyroid, and the vitamin D metabolism of the body. Although I am unaware of the exact mechanism, it seems clear that the calcitonin/parathyroid hormone/Vitamin D/calcium balance in the body changes as people on iodine loading programs often register as vitamin D deficient when they did not previously."

    I believe this to be my case.  I tested my vitamin D levels for years and they were optimal based on Dr. Mercola's recommendations and I supplemented with D in the form of cod liver oil rarely.  Then I started taking iodine and I had such a dramatic improvement in symptoms that I knew I had been iodine deficient perhaps my entire life.  After 2-3 years of iodine supplemention I am going to get my D levels tested soon.

  • Anonymous

    12/20/2010 12:10:49 PM |

    Please write the name of the test you underwent to find iodine deficient?Is it a routine blood test that nay primary care doc can order?Readers please chime in please


  • Pater_Fortunatos

    12/20/2010 1:02:01 PM |

    Published less than a month ago:

    Vitamin D deficiency in rheumatoid arthritis: prevalence, determinants and associations with disease activity and disability

  • Anonymous

    12/20/2010 9:58:20 PM |

    "Probably too cold to lay out in a bathing suit."

    Did you try without?
    OK, couldn't resist.

  • Anonymous

    12/20/2010 10:21:05 PM |

    Just a quick question about D3 supplements. I know that dry tabs aren't ideal because they're hard for the body to absorb but what about capsulated powdered D3?

  • Anonymous

    12/21/2010 1:34:06 AM |

    Have an observation using a vitamin D light that I thought to mention.  I take vitamin D capsules and have been doing so for around 5 years.  This winter I decided that I would also use a vitamin D3 light pretty much each day in addition to taking the capsules.  I bought a light sold on Dr Cannell's sight.  I've noticed that sunlight and the artificial D3 light makes me feel warm through out the day, something D3 isn't able to do for me, at least.  And with this cold fall/winter going on right now, this 10 minutes of sunlight is a big plus!    

    Well, there might be a nice bonus from using the light.  I think I'm growing bigger, in a muscular way.  I do work out at a gym and have done so for over 1 years.  Just began the slow burn process last week.  But this muscle growth seems to have started around the time I made a conscious effort to use the indoor light or obtain some sunlight.  

    Anyway, no way to prove, and could be completely wrong about this.  Just something I've noticed as my shirts have grown tighter over the last couple months.  Weight has gone up also by a few pounds. I'm pleased.

  • Jessica

    12/22/2010 7:29:50 PM |

    SMK- the test for iodine that we order in our clinic (family practice) is an iodine loading 24 hour urine test.

    patients take 50 mg of iodoral then capture their urine for the next 24 hours to see how much is excreted.

    There is a 2 week prep, though, that helps ensure the test is accurate.

    Dr. Brownstein (?) has several books on the topic. I think he recommends the load testing method in his book, "Iodine, why we need it, why we can't live without it."

  • Chris Masterjohn

    12/23/2010 2:10:47 AM |

    I'll be posting my comments on the IOM report soon, although this sucker is 999 pages long and taking me a while to read.  I don't think it is at all true that it focuses on "deficiency" instead of "optimal levels."  I think it is quite clearly and very explicitly focused on optimal levels.  

    The IOM claims to not have found sufficient evidence to conclude that higher levels are optimal.  Now, I do believe that there is good enough evidence to act on the hypothesis that levels should be above 30 ng/mL, and my impression so far is that there is very little data supporting an argument for >50 ng/mL as some suggest.  That said, I won't be convinced that the IOM is *wrong* that definitive evidence for greater than 20 ng/mL is lacking until I finish reading the report and look at some of the primary references.

    I do think it's important, however, to exercise the freedom to act on hypotheses.  If we needed definitive evidence for everyone we do, our familial relations and whole lives would fall apart.  Still, I think the IOM had a responsibility to assess the quality of the evidence and only solidify what is definitive into recommendations, as long as those recommendations don't preclude the freedom to use higher levels.

    In any case, hopefully I can finish this bad boy in the next week and blog about it.


  • Anonymous

    12/24/2010 3:43:54 AM |

    Isn't anyone concerned about all those studies summarized in the IOM report showing increased mortality at the highest D levels? 50 ng/ml is the highest level that I can justify targeting.

  • Lacey

    12/24/2010 3:17:52 PM |

    Off topic, but...I wish Paleo bloggers were better at spotting and stopping spam comments.

    Blogger Brooklyn said...Awesome Blog!!! blah blah blah blah

    Funny, Brooklyn had the exact same words to say over on Stephan Guyanet's blog:

    His wonderful blog that he links back to says, among other things, "In the meantime, they recommend that all people, with or without diabetes, should have a healthy balanced diet, low in fat, salt and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables." It's also chock full of plagiarized text.

    Sincere paleo fan or linkspammer?  You be the judge.

  • Travis Culp

    12/25/2010 4:38:25 AM |

    Has anyone tested vitamin D levels in indigenous people? I try to dose about 30 minutes a day of sun during solar noon without a shirt on during the summer and 5000 IU a day for the rest of the year. No idea what my level would be though.

  • Peter

    12/25/2010 12:45:12 PM |

    I'm more concerned about official organizations going beyond the evidence (eat margarine! eat carbs! avoid saturated fat!) than  being over-cautious when there's not a lot of reliable research.

  • Anonymous

    1/4/2011 4:26:38 AM |

    One more comment on my apparently deleted comment - there's a possibiliy I never typed in the word verification code, but I believe I did actually post the comment. Sorry, if I did falsely accuse.

  • Brad Fallon

    3/5/2011 6:08:50 PM |

    Vitamin D Deficiency, what is the best natural source apart from sunshine to help keep the levels up?

  • Anonymous

    3/21/2011 4:15:01 PM |

    I just found my new vitamin store. The prices are the lowest I could find. They gave me a free gift of $5.00 with no minimum purchase and I got free shipping! The code I used at checkout is WIR500. Maybe it will work for you too?